Activity fee hikes an option

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 4, 2002

At a time when many Minnesota school districts -- especially rural ones -- are facing tough budget decisions, it makes sense that schools will need to begin shifting the costs of extracurricular activities onto the students who participate and their families.

Austin school district residents haven't really had to consider that option, especially since voters approved a referendum in November. However, our neighbors in the Albert Lea school district are looking to implement larger user fees in order to reinstate many of those activities originally cut to make up a $1.1 million budget deficit the district had last year.

With growing frustration over how schools spend their money -- a large part of which is out of local control thanks to state and federal mandates -- voters in some Minnesota communities and elsewhere have voted no in levy referenda, signaling that they are unwilling or unable to help pay for programs outside the traditional classroom.

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We hope Austin school officials won't soon have to act on this subject. However, it’s inevitable that if supporters of these programs want them to continue, they may have to start footing more of the bill.